Climathon is a global 24-hour climate change hackathon organised by Climate-KIC, which took place simultaneously in cities around the world on October 27, 2017. This is the third Climathon event and has grown from 19 cities in 2015 to 238 cities in 2017.
Climathon attracts entrepreneurs, students, social innovators, professionals, and academics, and encourages them to to create innovative solutions to climate change issues faced by cities. Each city determines is own local climate challenge that affects their urban life, which can vary from air quality, water management, waste management, extreme weather events or sustainable land use. Participants have 24 hours to develop their solution to the challenge and they then pitch their ideas to relevant local experts and stakeholders. Climathon serves to drive climate action since these ideas can turn into feasible sustainable solutions and social businesses that address climate change challenges in cities worldwide.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago was the first Caribbean city to participate at Climathon.
Climathon Port of Spain was hosted by IAMovement and Mora Carbon Consult. The 24-hour hackathon was held at Queens Royal College, situated around the scenic Queen’s Park Savannah. Port of Spain is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago and is the most densely populated area in the country; with just over 4,000 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Approximately 35% of the population enters Port of Spain on a typical workday, while at peak times there are an estimated 30,000 cars per hour on the city’s roadways. This intensity of people, traffic and corresponding energy demands undoubtedly have negative effects on the surrounding environment. As such, the Climathon Port of Spain challenge was to increase our resilience to climate change and support a healthier, greener environment in Port of Spain through a hackathon of ideas on how to encourage and increase the presence of urban and peri-urban agriculture spaces in the city.
Seven teams participated in Climathon Port of Spain, which comprised university students, professionals, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, innovators and persons passionate about the environment and sustainable development issues. I was a participant in this year’s Climathon. Interestingly, I had never met my team members, Sian Cuffy-Young and Tamara de Nobriga, until the actual day of the event. The Climathon schedule was jam-packed with activities ranging from the opening ceremony held and the French Ambassador’s residence to midnight yoga and movies to talks about climate change, sustainable agriculture and pitching skills. In the midst of this flurry, teams were still expected to develop feasible solutions for the selected city challenge.
My team’s solution was implementing community farms in low-income areas of Port of Spain utilizing guerrilla gardening concepts which have been successfully done in other cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Our team name was Guerilla Girls Inc, which was highly suitable since it summarized who we are and what was our solution. Our solution was a guerrilla gardening project to help communities establish communal food gardens in low income areas of Port of Spain which also face particularly high levels of violence. These guerrilla gardens would be low-budget and low-tech and would serve to provide food sources as well as a means of healing for those persons facing the loss of loved ones from violence through reconnection with the community and the environment. Throughout the night we refined our solution and our pitch on guerrilla gardening with assistance from mentors who volunteered their time and expertise at Climathon Port of Spain. This idea is innovative in its unconventional concept and implementation and its implementation is dependent on nurturing buy-in and involvement from the communities. Our solution would also connect low income communities in the city to farmers and agriculture experts and provide training on sustainable farming practices. We had to pitch in front of a panel of esteemed local professionals and experts in climate change, agriculture and environmental management the next morning in a closed-room session. After a whirlwind five minutes of pitching and answering questions from the judges we were done.
The winners of Climathon Port of Spain were announced soon after at the closing ceremony, which was attended by His Worship, Mr. Joel Martinez, Mayor of Port of Spain, and His Excellency, Mr. Hédi Picquart, Ambassador to France. Sian, Tamara and I of Guerilla Girls Inc., with our guerrilla gardening project in low income communities in Port of Spain placed first at this year’s Climathon! Second place went to Christian Lee John, Ronaldo Blake and Darion Williams, who are currently students at Queen’s Royal College with their We-Go app, which is a digital platform which enables carpooling by parent and students to reduce traffic congestion and pollution during school time in the city. The third-place solution was The Food Garden Initiative which was a social enterprise which focused on the installation of edible gardens for private, commercial and public projects with a focus on permaculture. The third-place team consisted of Daniel Stollmeyer, Jean-Luc Quesnel, Rheanna Chen and Janelle Zakour.
#Heart4Climate in Port of Spain
Climathon Port of Spain was concluded with the #Heart4Climate event in the Queen’s Park Savannah, which was hosted by IAMovement and other organisations. Participants, mentors and volunteers at Climathon as well as interested persons from supporting organisations and the general public took part in creating the #Heart4Climate formation in order to raise awareness on climate change and the need for local, regional and global climate action, particularly given destruction and damage which recent hurricanes have left the Caribbean islands.
Climathon Port of Spain was a fantastic event where local innovators and changemakers were able to connect and develop feasible solutions to climate challenges affecting the capital city and have the opportunity to take part in local, regional and global climate action. This climate hackathon showcased the ingenuity, passion, and commitment of young persons in Trinidad and Tobago to tackle climate change issues facing our communities through the innovative climate solutions which were developed to solve this year’s city climate challenge. I hope that all teams continue to refine our solutions, attract project financing and eventually successfully implement these projects in Port of Spain.